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Political fight on opinion polls sharpens; govt leaves it to EC

Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 05, 2013
First Published: 22:26 IST(5/11/2013) | Last Updated: 22:29 IST(5/11/2013)

Traditional rivals in Bihar, the ruling JD(U) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP joined the chorus for demanding a ban on the opinion polls, continuing with the deep divide within the political class over the issue.

The government, however, chose to stay away from the growing controversy, with sources indicating that the ball is in the Election Commission’s court. “Let us wait for the EC’s recommendation on the issue,” said a source.

“Opinion polls are a mockery...I may point out here that money plays a major role in surveys in the name of opinion polls,” Janata Dal (United) President, Sharad Yadav stated in his letter to the Election Commission.

Expressing similar views, Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan said :“I will soon write a letter to the Election Commission to put a stop on opinion and exit polls.”

The development comes a day after many parties expressed divergent views on the future of opinion polls, with the Congress leading the charge on banning them and the BJP strongly opposing any such move.

 The issue has led to many parties taking a stand opposite to their allies. A key UPA ally, the Nationalist Congress Party opposed any move to ban opinion polls in stark contrast to the Congress stand.

Similarly, the Shiromani Akali Dal and Shiv Sena struck a discordant note in the BJP-led NDA by supporting the demand for a ban on the opinion polls.

The latest controversy has also brought out the change in the stand of majority of the parties on the issue with the passage of time.  In an all-party meeting convened by the EC before the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, there was unanimity among all the parties to impose restrictions on such polls.

The move was shot down by the then Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, who had termed it as “unconstitutional.” Since then, depending on the outcome of opinion and exit polls, different political parties have taken positions on either to welcome or condemn the findings.

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